Blanks fired at Morecambe but Brewers claim another point in stalemate
GAMES between Burton Albion and Morecambe are usually goal-laden affairs as 29 in the previous six meetings testifies.
However, there is always an exception to the rule and this uninspiring goalless draw unfortunately proved to be the exact opposite of earlier meetings between the two sides.
On the positive side, Gary Rowett's Brewers are now seven games unbeaten, a club record in the Football League for games in the same season.
And a second clean sheet of the week on the road means that the Brewers are grinding out results even when the performances are not sparkling.
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Neither Stuart Tomlinson, in Burton's goal, or his Morecambe counterpart, Andreas Arestidou, were overly stretched during the 90 minutes, such was the dominance of the two defences. Or was it the paucity of both of the attacking line-ups?
With Calvin Zola still struggling with a hamstring injury, the Brewers showed only one change to the side that won at Southend United on Tuesday night, with Justin Richards given his first start since August, in place of Billy Kee, in attack alongside Matt Paterson.
Morecambe, looking for back-to-back home wins having beaten Chesterfield on Tuesday, began the brighter of the two sides, penning Albion back in the early stages.
Paterson was an early entry in referee Stuart Attwell's notebook for a challenge on defender Nick Fenton as Albion struggled to get hold of the ball early on and the Shrimps almost unlocked the Burton defence when Jack Redshaw played Andy Fleming in behind Rob Kiernan only for Tomlinson to rush out and block.
Fenton then leapt highest in the box to head wide from Lewis Alessandra's corner as the Brewers had to soak up plenty of early pressure but grew into the game and good link-up play between Richards and Paterson saw them threaten until Arestidou came confidently off his line to pluck a cross out of the air.
Jacques Maghoma and Lee Bell both fired wide as Burton rallied and when Robbie Weir was brought down by Stewart Drummond it offered Maghoma a similar opportunity to his winning strike against Southend. But on this occasion, Arestidou managed to fumble the free kick round the post.
Burton looked the more purposeful of the two sides in the remainder of the first half, although they had to survive a flurry of corners to go in level at the break.
Starting positively in the second half, the Brewers won an early corner but Luke Rooney, at the far post, could only steer the ball into the arms of Arestidou.
A rare moment of hesitancy in the Brewers' back line almost allowed Richard Brodie to open the scoring. But having been forced wide by Tomlinson, the former York City striker could only find the side-netting.
Zander Diamond epitomised Albion's new found defensive resilience with an excellent block to deny Fenton and Brodie should probably have done better than poke the ball wide when he latched on to Chris McCready's back post header.
Burton sent on Adi Yussuf in place of Paterson to try to liven up their attack and the young striker quickly made his mark, infuriating the home fans with an aerial challenge on Shrimps skipper Will Haining that drew a yellow card from referee Atwell. The Morecambe man subsequently had to leave the action, looking rather dazed.
Robbie Weir picked up a booking as well for a foul on Andrew Wright. It was his fifth of the campaign, meaning he will miss Saturday's game against Bristol Rovers.
Having already introduced Jack Dyer for Rooney, Burton had to use their third substitution to replace a struggling Anthony O'Connor with Nathan Stanton.
Morecambe continued to look the more threatening side as the game wore on and former Oldham striker Lewis Alessandra twice squandered opportunities to win the game in the closing stages.
First, he fired wide from the edge of the box.
And when he finally broke clear of the visitors' defensive stranglehold and raced to the edge of the box, his final chipped shot cleared Tomlinson but also drifted over the crossbar.
Weir put a speculative effort wide of the Morecambe goal late on but the home side finished on top, with both Jack Redshaw and Fleming shooting wide.